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Dead Alive (Unrated) (Sp) (1993)

A horror film directed by Peter Jackson

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Gonzo entertainment! So very bloody...so very fun.

  • Aug 17, 2012
Rating:
+5
**** out of ****

I love blood. I love guts. I love gore. I love anything (artificial) that flows in large amounts, even if we aren't speaking of bodily fluids. But if we are, then movie blood is what I always crave. The more the merrier is my motto when it comes to such a thing. I'm not easily offended or shocked by movie violence; and in the case of features like "The Evil Dead" and its sequel, the grotesque becomes the darkly comic and absurd. Peter Jackson apparently loves blood, guts, gore, and fake red bodily fluids as much as I do. His early effort "Dead Alive" (known as "Braindead" some places) is an ode or homage to the mere existence of over-the-top movie violence and gore. The whole thing has this real low budget aesthetic to it throughout the first half and that's charming, but what's even more-so is the transition from that to all-out gruesome carnage in the third act.

This is probably one of the most bat-shit insane and violent movies I have ever seen, period. It's such a lively, spontaneous, comic horror farce; it embraces special effects for blood and gore like few films before or after it truly have. And by blood and gore, we're talking organs coming back to life, faces being ripped open and necks suffering from a similar fate, flesh exploding into a frenzy of green goo, and a in a famous scene, a lawnmower meeting with mortal flesh and causing certain disfigurement and mutilation. Was there a line that Jackson ever considered? Because if there was; he not only crosses but disregards it all-together. With "Dead Alive", there simply is no line. And Jackson couldn't give less of a fuck about it.

It starts out with a sequence involving a couple of misguided explorers on the fictional Skull Island who intend to escape with a caged "Rat Monkey", which has a rather nasty bite. Not everyone makes it back alive. Cut to the town of Wellington, New Zealand; where the rat monkey now lives, confined in its cage with the other monkeys at a zoo. It's 1957; and the likably docile Lionel (Timonthy Balme) is living with his elderly mother (Elizabeth Moody) and is being pursued by a helpless romantic foreigner named Paquita (Diana Penalver). The two go to the zoo one day on a date and Lionel's over-protective mother tags along, only to be bitten by the crazed rat monkey. Lionel must take care of her while she is still sane, which won't be for long. She starts losing her skin (an ear, parts of her face, soon her whole body) and eventually goes completely mad, or so it seems. Perhaps she's just a zombie.

Her behavior gets increasingly violent and Lionel must purchase a syringe in order to fight back against his mother and the ill-fated house guests that she has killed and turned into zombies just like her. When mother leaves the house, she starts attacking townsfolk and turning them into zombies as well. Soon she'll have an entire army behind her. Lionel must contain what she's started in his house. But it's not easy. Two of the zombies have sex and produce a disgusting little zombie baby who Lionel attempts to father by taking it to the park and then subsequently beating the shit out of it. Then Lionel's obnoxious cousin arrives, discovers the zombies in the guest room, and invites all his friends and family to the house for a party. You know what happens next.

I'm a sucker for movies like this. Movies that are made according to a director's original and daring vision regardless of what the general public might think. Even the most mainstream of film critics have warmed up to this one by now; and it's considered a masterpiece in the field of marrying the humorous with the macabre by horror fans and movie critics specializing in or who enjoy the genre in particular. I can understand why. Here, you've got a director (Jackson) who is known for bigger and supposedly better things such as the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and the spectacular re-imagining of "King Kong" (which also features Skull Island). But the truth is that the earlier end of the director's career was populated by absurdist comedies of an extremely over-the-top nature; and this is one of them as well as one of the best. If you're half as crazy as me when it comes to your taste in cinema; you're going to have the movie-going experience of your life with this one.

Kung Fu priests that "kick ass for the Lord", diabolical yet playful zombie newborns, silly dialogue, silly accents, yet effective satire on 50's New Zealand society; "Dead Alive" has just about everything I've been looking for in a movie but never expected I would get. As far as sheer entertainment goes, it's a marvel and I haven't had this much pure fun watching a movie in a long time, but I love it when the occasion pops up at random. Every self-respecting sicko should see this. Any self-respecting human being should see this. It's such a good, hilarious, ridiculous bloodbath that I can't stand seeing it being overlooked by ANYONE. It is good cinema. Because as a special effects extravaganza, it really does understand itself. It's completely self-aware of its absurdity. But it was also influential for the new wave of American horror film; particularly films like "Shaun of the Dead". It's a classic on its own right. A flesh-crawling, head-ripping, toilet-absorbing, blade-cutting good time.

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September 07, 2012
EXCELLENT write up!
 
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More Dead Alive reviews
review by . December 01, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
GORE-RIFFIC, WICKEDLY Funny
   DEAD ALIVE (a.k.a. “Braindead”) is directed by Peter Jackson; yes, the same dude who won Oscars for his terrific adaptations of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Jackson’s 1992 horror comedy has the elements that can attract the horror fan; loads of gore and buckets of blood. It also pitches in a nightmarish vision of childbirth all the while injecting the film with a dark, wicked sense of humor. Hey, the film also makes a great date movie since it does have a very heartwarming …
review by . December 11, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
Look up the word "disgusting" in the unwritten Book Of The Cinema and you'll find that the definition is "Peter Jackson's 'Braindead'". I don't know how else to introduce the picture other than to say that it is believed to be the goriest film ever made, and that it is considered by many to be the best zombie (and even horror in general) film ever made.    The film revolves around Lionel (Timothy Balme), a kind-hearted and loyal young man forced to take care of his wicked old …
review by . May 23, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
In a film like DEAD ALIVE, the plot is basically pointless. The only reason it exists is to add some humor to the bloody gore-fest that erupts and since it's discussed so often, it isn't necessary to repeat again. Basically, there will be two reasons you would want to see DEAD ALIVE. The most obvious reason is if you're a fan of movies with a lot of blood, guts, and gore. DEAD ALIVE is the goriest film of all time (the lawnmower scene alone takes at least five minutes). For example, people are literally …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #2
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie

Wiki

The grossest movieevermade, this quintessential splatter film details the tender story of a henpecked boy, his overbearing mum, and a nasty little Sumerian rat-monkey that turns people into voracious zombies. In lesser hands, thisne plus ultraviscera-fest would be so disturbing as to be nigh-unwatchable, but the incredible energy and imagination of director Peter Jackson makes it a first-class guilty pleasure, with plentiful helpings of gallows humor (the scripture-quoting, kung-fu-dispensing priest is a highlight) and a taboo subtext that Sigmund Freud would have loved. Essential viewing for gorehounds and anyone else with a high tolerance for flying entrails. The director would later tone down the gore (but not the manic enthusiasm) for the sublimeHeavenly CreaturesandThe Frighteners.--Andrew Wright
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Details

Director: Peter Jackson
Runtime: 104 minutes
Studio: Vidmark / Trimark
First to Review
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